African Studies Archaeology and the Study of Africa
by
Ann B. Stahl
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0013

Introduction

Africa is the birthplace of humankind and a continent of tremendous social and cultural diversity. As such, knowledge of Africa’s past is central to understanding our species’ deep history; the diverse pathways of our social, technological, and political economic development; and the mutually entangled character of our continentally siloed histories. For all but the last few centuries of its diverse and dynamic 2.5 million–year history, insight into Africa’s rich and diverse pasts rests on material evidence generated through archaeological investigations. Yet systematic archaeological study of Africa’s pasts is relatively recent and characterized by significant temporal and geographical disparities; some time periods and areas have seen considerably more intensive research than others. Notable too are the effects of preconceptions about Africa and its peoples on the questions posed and answers sought by archaeologists. Deeply held presuppositions led early scholars to deny the capacity of African peoples to make gains on what 19th- and early-20th-century European scholars envisioned as a singular progressive pathway, one modeled on the elevation of European and Near Eastern history to the status of a universal expectation. For early postcolonial archaeology, as for history, colonial dismissals of Africa’s progressive capacity became a rallying cry for research aimed at demonstrating that Africa’s past was dynamic and filled with examples of independent and early innovation. Recent postcolonial decades have seen expanded research, more nuanced engagements with questions of origins and connections, and growing attention to the formative role of material practice in the configuration of social life, as described in separate sections of this bibliography. The focus of this article is the breadth and depth of African archaeology. It directs readers to literatures on the history, goals, and practices of African archaeology, aiding readers unfamiliar with archaeology to gain insight into issues around evidence and interpretation. Other sections provide pathways into the literature on particular topics and technologies, some of which are temporally anchored, as, for example, the study of hominin ancestors and early modern humans. Other topics span broad temporal reaches associated with particular economic strategies (hunting and gathering, cultivation or pastoralism), technologies (ceramics, metallurgy), sociopolitical configurations (states and complex societies, villages), or practices (religion and ritual, siege and slavery). The goal is to introduce readers to some of what is known of Africa’s diverse and rich pasts while providing pathways into literatures that foster critical engagement with that knowledge.

General Overviews

A number of books—both single-authored and edited collections—provide overviews of African archaeology, most focused on the archaeology of the continent from the Sahara south (see also Textbooks). Of the single-authored books, Klein 2009 provides an introduction to the Plio-Pleistocene archaeology of Africa (2.6 million years until several hundred thousand years ago), while Mitchell 2002 surveys the full temporal scope of southern Africa’s past. Edited collections tend to be more topically, temporally, and/or regionally focused. Kusimba and Kusimba 2003 offers insights into the later-period East African archaeology, while Connah 1998 is a collection that is broader in geographical scope despite its similar temporal and topical focus. Shaw, et al. 1993 is similarly focused on topics in later prehistory (plant and animal domestication, metallurgy and urbanism), with broad geographical coverage. Two other edited volumes are thematically focused and represent the first works in African archaeology to address these themes: Kent 1998 on the archaeology of gender and Reid and Lane 2004 on historical archaeology, a rubric that first emerged in North America to encompass contexts in which archaeology is aided by textual sources.

  • Connah, Graham, ed. Transformations in Africa: Essays on Africa’s Later Past. London: Leicester University Press, 1998.

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    A collection of commissioned essays focused on the dynamism of Africa’s later past. Contributors explore the changing adaptations of hunter-gatherers, the effects of food production, metallurgy, urbanism, climate change, trade, and maritime connections, with a primary focus on West and East Africa contexts.

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    • Kent, Susan, ed. Gender in African Prehistory. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 1998.

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      First systematic attempt to address issues of gender in African archaeological studies. Case studies range from early Holocene/later Stone Age contexts to recent centuries and focus on societies of varying social and political complexity. Three concluding essays contextualize these studies in relation to gender studies more broadly.

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      • Klein, Richard G. The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins. 3d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

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        A substantive compendium that provides background on evolutionary theory and nomenclature, primate evolution, and the biology and associated archaeology of early hominins through early modern Homo sapiens. Extensive bibliography and useful illustrations make this a good resource for students. Originally published in 1989.

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        • Kusimba, Chapurukha M., and Sibel B. Kusimba, eds. East African Archaeology: Foragers, Potters, Smiths and Traders. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2003.

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          Focused on the last two thousand years, the volume explores the diversity of East African economic and political forms, with chapters focused on the archaeology of foragers, farmers, pastoralists, and states. Several chapters on iron metallurgy are augmented by a chapter on ceramic ethnoarchaeology.

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          • Mitchell, Peter. The Archaeology of Southern Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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            A comprehensive survey of archaeology of the southern subcontinent, from the Zambezi River south, and covering sites ranging in time from the earliest archaeological traces to recent centuries. Lucidly written with a valuable bibliography.

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            • Reid, Andrew M., and Paul J. Lane, eds. African Historical Archaeologies. New York: Kluwer Academic, 2004.

              DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-8863-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Contributors consider the value and utility of “historical archaeology” in this first collection to adopt the North American–inspired rubric. Chapters discuss the use of multiple sources, the interpretive challenges posed by multivocality, colonial processes and transformations associated with modernity, and the relationship of past and present in contemporary Africa.

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              • Shaw, Thurstan, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko, eds. The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns. One World Archaeology 20. London: Routledge, 1993.

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                A compilation of papers from the 1986 World Archaeology Congress in Southampton, UK. Contributions center on topics including Quaternary climates and environmental relations, terminological debates, studies of food production, metallurgy, and urbanism. Extensive references provide useful pathways into literature prior to the early 1990s.

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                Reference Works

                With the exception of Huffman 2007, the published reference works cited here are out of date in terms of recent and ongoing research. However, they provide foundational background that remains useful for the contemporary reader. Clark 1982 was, at the time of its publication, a landmark compilation covering a vast temporal and geographical range. Delson, et al. 2000 is useful for those interested in questions around hominin evolution and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology and provides valuable background on concepts and terminology. Vogel 1997 is an encyclopedia that offers broader temporal coverage and is perhaps most useful for its essays on technological systems. Huffman 2007 is the most up-to-date and focal of the reference works listed here in that it is focused on sites of the last two thousand years in southern Africa. Written in part as a field guide, it is particularly useful for its illustrations; however, readers should consult pieces cited in States and Complex Societies to gain an appreciation of the debates that emerged around Huffman’s interpretations of southern African Iron Age archaeology. The Proceedings of the Pan African Congress of Prehistory are compilations of conference papers; as such, they provide a snapshot of debates and current knowledge at the time of these periodic congresses.

                • Clark, J. Desmond, ed. The Cambridge History of Africa. Vol. 1, From the Earliest Time to c. 500 BC. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

                  DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521222150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  At the time of publication, the standard reference work on the earlier archaeology of Africa. Though out of date with respect to key interpretations, remains important for its synopsis of earlier debates, rich bibliography, and quality maps and illustrations.

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                  • Delson, Eric, Ian Tattersall, John A. Van Couvering, and Alison S. Brooks, eds. Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory. 2d ed. New York: Garland, 2000.

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                    Although out-of-date in reference to current hominin taxonomy and more recent research, this comprehensive reference work provides readers with useful background on concepts of evolutionary biology, geology, primate taxonomy, Plio-Pleistocene archaeology, and stone tool use and manufacture, along with concise, informative entries on important Stone Age sites and fossil locales.

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                    • Huffman, Thomas N. Handbook to the Iron Age: The Archaeology of Pre-Colonial Farming Societies in Southern Africa. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2007.

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                      Useful compendium on sites of the last 1,800 years south of 18° S and east of 24° E. Discusses concepts, cultural units, and precolonial history. Richly illustrated. Summaries useful, so long as the reader is aware that they do not acknowledge ongoing debates around site functions and associations.

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                      • Proceedings of the Pan African Congress on Prehistory. Nairobi, Kenya: PanAfrican Archaeological Association, 1952–.

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                        This periodic but irregularly held conference has resulted in the publication of eleven congress proceedings, the first in 1952. Original volumes are difficult to access, but the PanAfrican Archaeological Association has posted past volumes on its website with a user-friendly search engine.

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                        • Vogel, Joseph O., ed. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa: Archaeology, History, Languages, Cultures and Environments. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 1997.

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                          Provides introductions to key topics including African environments, histories of research, technology, people and culture (languages and lifeways), and regional archaeology. Text is augmented by selective bibliographies aimed at getting readers into the primary literature. Entries on technological systems (stone, pottery, and metal) are particularly useful for the introductory student.

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                          Textbooks

                          Textbooks on African archaeology are neither numerous nor homogenous (but see also General Overviews). The only text that aims at an authoritative presentation of the full temporal and geographic range of African archaeology is Phillipson 2005. Its narrative style papers over debates and often elides the evidence on which interpretations are based. Stahl 2005 similarly aims at broad temporal and geographical coverage, but contributors to this edited volume engage explicitly with debates and evidence, opening to view the processes through which archaeologists arrive at their understandings of past lifeways. Hall 1990 is a single-authored text that similarly engages critically with the questions posed, assumptions made, and quality of evidence relevant to later period archaeology in southern Africa. Garlake 2002 offers a highly readable if somewhat out-of-date continent-wide account of African art and architecture, while Mitchell 2005 offers an innovative analysis of Africa’s intercontinental connections, a topic that for some decades was considered problematic for its presumed implications that innovation in Africa was dependent on external connections.

                          • Garlake, Peter. Early Art and Architecture of Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                            A richly illustrated introduction to art and architecture of Africa written by an archaeologist with extensive field experience that enriches his discussion of southern African rock art, the art and monuments of Nubia, Aksum, the Niger River, West African forests, East African coast, and Great Zimbabwe and interior southern Africa.

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                            • Hall, Martin. Farmers, Kings, and Traders: The People of Southern Africa, 200–1860. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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                              Critically examines questions, evidence, and approaches to the study of southern African archaeology. The text explores both historical processes and changing perceptions of the past in the present, deftly melding consideration of theory and evidence. Amply illustrated, well indexed, and accompanied by a useful list of references cited. Originally published as The Changing Past: Farmers, Kings, and Traders in Southern Africa, 200–1860 (Cape Town: David Philip, 1987).

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                              • Mitchell, Peter. African Connections: Archaeological Perspectives on Africa and the Wider World. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2005.

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                                Explores Africa’s long history of world connections with particular focus on the antiquity, character, and effects of linkages. Opening chapter contextualizes debates around interaction. Subsequent chapters explore questions around the development and spread of farming, interactions via the Nile, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and the Saharan “sea.” Extensive bibliography.

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                                • Phillipson, David W. African Archaeology. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511800313Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Endeavors to cover African archaeology’s temporal and geographical breadth. Good starting point for understanding topics in African archaeology, though its narrative format is less useful as an introduction to debates and primary evidence. Stronger on topics on which the author’s research focuses, but the bibliography provides useful leads. Originally published in 1985.

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                                  • Stahl, Ann Brower, ed. African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                    Augmented by extensive bibliographies, this collection aims to introduce readers to central debates and to encourage critical evaluation of archaeological knowledge by reflecting on the questions posed, the quality of evidence, and future directions for research. Chapters range from the earliest archaeological traces (2.6 million years) to recent centuries.

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                                    Journals

                                    In recent years the subject of African archaeology has been relatively well served by dedicated journals, some with continent-wide coverage, others dedicated to the archaeology of specific regions. The longest running is the South African Archaeological Bulletin, published by the South African Archaeological Society, which also publishes the periodic Goodwin series. Other relatively long-standing regional journals that continue to publish are the Bulletin de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (Bulletin de l’IFAN), published by the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, and Sahara. The longest-running journal with continent-wide coverage is the African Archaeological Review, and the more recently inaugurated Journal of African Archaeology also includes the entire continent in its scope. In 2009 the journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa changed its mandate from a focus on East African history and archaeology to continent-wide coverage of African archaeology, captured in its expanded title Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. Readers should be aware, however, that archaeologists of Africa publish work in journals aimed at broader audiences, for example, the Journal of World Prehistory, or in publications like the Journal of Archaeological Science that carry more specialized science-based studies.

                                    • African Archaeological Review. 1983–.

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                                      First published by Cambridge University Press and since 1996 by Plenum/Kluwer/Springer, the primary peer-reviewed outlet for English-language African archaeological studies from its founding until 2003, when competing journals appeared. Covers all time periods and areas with articles ranging from reports of field excavations to synthetic reviews and book reviews.

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                                      • Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. 1966–.

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                                        Founded in 1966 under the title Azania as the journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (Nairobi), this journal focused on East African history and archaeology until 2009, when it was renamed and refocused on all time periods and geographical areas in African archaeology. Publishes peer-reviewed reports, syntheses, and reviews in English or French.

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                                        • Bulletin de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire. 1966–.

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                                          Published by the Institut fondemental d’Afrique noire (IFAN) at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, this semiannual publishes work on the history and archaeology of French-speaking West Africa.

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                                          • Journal of African Archaeology. 2003–.

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                                            Published twice a year by a private publisher (Africa Magna Verlag, Frankfurt) in large folio format augmented by color illustrations and photographs. Not available electronically, but is nonetheless a primary journal in the field. Publishes original research articles and an associated monograph series.

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                                            • Journal of Archaeological Science. 1974–.

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                                              A monthly peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research and major review papers related to archaeological science. A good source for articles on subsistence, environmental reconstruction, lithic technology, metallurgy, sourcing of raw materials (stone, glass, ceramics), and related issues.

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                                              • Journal of World Prehistory. 1987–.

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                                                A quarterly journal published by Springer comprising peer-reviewed articles synthesizing research on the prehistory of an area, topic, or time horizon. Though it is worldwide in its coverage, articles relevant to African archaeology are commonly published in this venue.

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                                                • Sahara. 1988–.

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                                                  Published annually in Italy; includes articles in English, French, and Italian on paleoenvironments and the prehistory and history of the Sahara, the Sahel, and adjacent regions. Good source for research on rock art. Includes book reviews relevant to the journal’s geographical coverage. Articles are abstracted in each of the journal’s three languages.

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                                                  • South African Archaeological Bulletin. 1945–.

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                                                    Two annual issues of peer-reviewed English-language research articles, reports, and book reviews on archaeology from all regions of Africa, though in practice coverage is primarily southern Africa. Longest continuously published African archaeology journal. Good source for rock art research. Partnering with JSTOR has increased accessibility of back issues.

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                                                    History of African Archaeology

                                                    African archaeology began as a specialist pursuit in restricted geographical areas in the early decades of the 20th century, with an expanding number of practitioners—mostly European—in the post–World War II period. Much early work belonged to the genre of “colonial archaeology” (see also Practice of African Archaeology), which was shaped by the Eurocentric presumption that Africa stood outside the “march of progress.” Accordingly, it was assumed that any impetus to change must have come from outside the continent, as explored by Kuklick 1991 in relation to debates surround Great Zimbabwe and Derricourt 2011 more generally. As discussed in Shepherd 2003, Africans in this period were most often involved in archaeological research as laborers, and their contributions to the growth of archaeological knowledge remained invisible. The dearth of archaeological research prior to midcentury meant that reconstructions of Africa culture history were based on extrapolation from contemporary sources, projecting ethnographic patterns and linguistic distributions into the past without corroborating archaeological evidence (see also Evidence and Sources), as, for example, Murdock 1959, a speculative reconstruction of African economic and social history. These speculative scenarios drove the agenda of archaeological research in the early independence period as archaeologists—whose ranks increasingly included African practitioners—strove to challenge Eurocentric interpretations and test hypotheses derived from nonarchaeological sources. As Ogundiran 2002 describes for Nigeria, the concerns and needs of newly independent nations shaped national research agendas. Early compilations like Clark 1970 provide a snapshot of what was understood of Africa’s pasts from archaeological evidence in the period prior to the growth of anthropological archaeology. These trends in the development of African archaeology are most fully captured in Robertshaw 1990, which, despite its publication date, remains the standard work on the history of field. The question of audience and the role of archaeology in school curricula is taken up by Esterhuysen 2000 (see also Practice of African Archaeology).

                                                    • Clark, J. Desmond. The Prehistory of Africa. New York: Praeger, 1970.

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                                                      An early synthetic text useful today primarily for the window it provides into understandings of African archaeology in the early postcolonial period. Important benchmark for assessing shifting perspectives and expansion of archaeological data in the past four decades.

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                                                      • Derricourt, Robin. Inventing Africa: History, Archaeology, and Ideas. London: Pluto, 2011.

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                                                        Explores the use and misuse of narratives about Africa’s past. Provides useful introductions to perceptions of Africa as the “dark continent”; biographies of famous archaeologists (Dart and the Leakeys); debates over modern human origins; background on ancient Egypt; and the moral lessons taken from the study of historic African states.

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                                                        • Esterhuysen, A. B. “The Birth of Educational Archaeology in South Africa.” Antiquity 74.283 (2000): 159–165.

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                                                          One of the few published pieces that discusses the role of archaeology in educational practice on the African continent. The article explores the postapartheid incorporation of archaeology into school curricula and reflects on the how this may shape archaeology in the future.

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                                                          • Kuklick, Henrika. “Contested Monuments: The Politics of Archeology in Southern Africa.” In Colonial Situations: Essays on the Contextualization of Ethnographic Knowledge. Edited by George W. Stocking Jr., 135–169. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

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                                                            Contextualized history of the debates around monumental sites in southern Africa that examines the broader political and economic factors and personalities involved. Useful for its detailed discussion of the history of investigations and debates around Great Zimbabwe. Considers this in relation to the broader genre of “colonial archaeology.”

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                                                            • Murdock, George Peter. Africa: Its Peoples and Their Culture History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959.

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                                                              Murdock’s speculative reconstruction of African economic history and social patterns shaped the terms of early archaeological debate. Informed by comparative ethnographic and linguistic data, Murdock’s thinly evidenced reconstructions—of agricultural origins, economic practices, and the spread of language groups—shaped the questions asked by archaeologists through the 1960s and 1970s.

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                                                              • Ogundiran, Akinwumi. “Archaeology, Historiographic Traditions, and Institutional Discourse of Development.” In Nigeria in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Toyin Falola, 13–35. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2002.

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                                                                Critically engaged review of the preoccupations and concerns that shaped historiography and archaeology in Nigeria, explored in relation to the country’s sociopolitical and economic experience. Argues that archaeology’s focus on rural, local histories positions the discipline to contribute to understandings of community life and cultural landscapes in temporal perspective.

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                                                                • Robertshaw, Peter, ed. A History of African Archaeology. London: James Currey, 1990.

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                                                                  A collection of original essays exploring the motivations and inspirations of archaeological research in Africa, augmented by bio- and autobiographical essays on founding figures in African archaeology. Covers diverse geographical areas. Indispensable bibliography; remains a standard on the topic.

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                                                                  • Shepherd, Nick. “‘When the Hand that Holds the Trowel Is Black . . .’ Disciplinary Practices of Self-Representation and the Issue of ‘Native’ Labour in Archaeology.” Journal of Social Archaeology 3 (2003): 334–352.

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                                                                    Uses 20th-century photographs from the archive of John Goodwin (a pioneering South African archaeologist) to explore the unwritten history of the African coworkers who undertook the primary labor and logistical work and often contributed to the interpretation of archaeological excavations in South Africa.

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                                                                    Practice of African Archaeology

                                                                    Whereas archaeology began as a discipline embedded in colonial contexts and was in many respects shaped by Eurocentric presumptions (see History of African Archaeology), the discipline has undergone considerable change shaped by broader debates in the humanities and social sciences in more recent decades. Many contemporary archaeologists show a concern with how the practices and outcomes of African archaeology relate to broader political and economic developments and advocate a critical engagement with the processes and outcomes of archaeological knowledge production, as discussed in Shepherd 2002. Increasingly, archaeologists engage in reflexive practice aimed at bringing to light the processes that shape archaeological knowledge production and its relevance to contemporary concerns, as, for example, Schrire 1995. Particularly important has been a concern to address how archaeologists engage with local communities, as illustrated by recent efforts to develop participatory or community-based research projects, as described in Almansa, et al. 2011. Thiaw 2003 discusses the challenges in working with communities that do not see themselves as connected to the archaeological resources, as well as the difficulties that indigenous archaeologists face when local people perceive their work as an oddball pursuit (see also Heritage and Its Management). Schmidt 2009 is a collection that aims to set the agenda for a postcolonial archaeology of Africa, though its success in doing so is arguably compromised by the tone of some of the contributions. Lane 2011 provides a more concise and balanced vision for renewing the practice of African archaeology.

                                                                    • Almansa, Jaime, Gashaw Belay, Dawit Tibebu, et al. “The Azazo Project: Archaeology and the Community in Ethiopia.” Public Archaeology 10 (2011): 159–179.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1179/175355311X13149692332358Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Describes efforts to develop a cooperative and participatory dimension to an archaeological project focused on historic-period Jesuit sites in the Lake Tana area of Ethiopia. Chronicles outreach to school groups of varying levels and efforts to foster site preservation through outreach to politicians and effective use of media.

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                                                                      • Lane, Paul. “Possibilities for a Postcolonial Archaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa: Indigenous and Usable Pasts.” World Archaeology 43 (2011): 7–25.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2011.544886Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Highlights the diversity of concerns and approaches subsumed under “postcolonial” archaeology. Advocates greater attention to community-based, participatory research; eschewing categorical distinctions between “indigenous” and “nonindigenous” knowledge systems; and greater attention to how Africans in the past pursued archaeological practices of their own.

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                                                                        • Schmidt, Peter R., ed. Postcolonial Archaeologies in Africa. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2009.

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                                                                          A collection of essays that explores practices deemed colonial and those distinguished as postcolonial in African archaeology. Addresses issues of methodology, community engagement, knowledge dissemination, and disciplinary practice. The volume has engendered strong reactions, pro and con, and should be read in relation to broader literatures and debates.

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                                                                          • Schrire, Carmel. Digging through Darkness: Chronicles of an Archaeologist. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.

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                                                                            A unique melding of autobiography and narrative of archaeological discovery centered on colonial encounters in the South African Cape. The “colonial-born” South African author uses research on a Dutch colonial outpost as a lens for exploring questions of racism and colonialism over the course of recent centuries.

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                                                                            • Shepherd, Nick. “The Politics of Archaeology in Africa.” Annual Review of Anthropology 31 (2002): 189–209.

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                                                                              A critically engaged discussion of the history of African archaeology in relation to colonial and postcolonial politics, nationalism, and the inequalities that shape African archaeology in transnational knowledge networks. Bibliography provides a useful springboard into the debates around audiences and accountability in African archaeology.

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                                                                              • Thiaw, Ibrahima. “Archaeology and the Public in Senegal: Reflections on Doing Fieldwork at Home.” Journal of African Archaeology 1 (2003): 215–225.

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                                                                                Written by a Senegalese archaeologist who studied anthropological archaeology in the United States, the article reflects on the challenges of conducting archaeological research in contexts where local people see little relationship between themselves and the sites excavated by archaeologists. Explores challenges for heritage management and public outreach in historical archaeology.

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                                                                                Heritage and Its Management

                                                                                Africa is facing a crisis of heritage. Archaeological resources and museums are under assault from looting linked to the art and antiquities trade, as explored in Schmidt and McIntosh 1996 and exemplified by the threats to Ghanaian cultural heritage discussed by Kankpeyeng and DeCorse 2004. Heritage tourism, often linked to UNESCO initiatives, has not proven to be the hoped-for panacea. In some instances, it has exacerbated the challenges of conservation and had unanticipated effects on local peoples’ relationships to archaeological resources as discussed in contributions to De Jong and Rowlands 2007 and in Wynne-Jones and Walsh 2010. McIntosh 1994 is a call for systematic site inventory and heritage training that has largely gone unheeded by external agencies. Contributors to Ardouin 1997 explore with candor the challenges facing museums in West Africa, while chapters in Finneran 2005 provide a more up-to-date discussion of cultural resource management practices.

                                                                                • Ardouin, Claude Daniel, ed. Museums and Archaeology in West Africa. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.

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                                                                                  Proceedings of a 1993 meeting between university and museum personnel from twelve African nations convened to reflect on “museums and archaeology: the quest for public communication.” Notable for its frank engagement with issues and calls for collaboration between practitioners and communities. Good snapshot of the challenges, less so of solutions.

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                                                                                  • De Jong, Ferdinand, and Michael Rowlands, eds. Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast, 2007.

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                                                                                    Issued as part of a series aimed at fostering new, critically informed agendas in the study of cultural heritage, the collection addresses issues of cultural belonging and memory work as they relate to diverse practices, including UNESCO World Heritage practices and cultural tourism linked to historical and archaeological sites.

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                                                                                    • Finneran, Niall, ed. Safeguarding Africa’s Archaeological Past: Selected Papers from a Workshop Held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2001. BAR International Series 1454. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005.

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                                                                                      A collection of eight papers by active practitioners exploring issues ranging from ethics and the protection of cultural heritage to rock art conservation and cultural resource management practices. Geographically varied papers covering issues in West Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, and southern Africa.

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                                                                                      • Kankpeyeng, Benjamin W., and Christopher R. DeCorse. “Ghana’s Vanishing Past: Development, Antiquities and the Destruction of the Archaeological Record.” African Archaeological Review 21 (2004): 89–128.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1023/B:AARR.0000030786.24067.19Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Explores the tensions between economic development and management of cultural resources, addressing threats posed to sites and historic buildings by development projects, tourism initiatives, and the looting practices that have been the focus of more sustained attention. Though focused on Ghana, the article raises issues of broader relevance.

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                                                                                        • McIntosh, Susan Keech. “Archaeological Heritage Management and Site Inventory Systems in Africa: The Role of Development.” In Culture and Development in Africa: Proceedings of an International Conference Held at the World Bank, Washington, DC, April 2 and 3, 1992. Edited by Ismail Serageldin and June Taboroff, 387–409. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1994.

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                                                                                          Delivered at a World Bank conference on culture and development; makes a case for routine consideration of heritage issues as a component of development projects, underscoring the need for a systematic and uniform inventory system for Africa’s archaeological heritage. Urges development of systematic training programs on the continent. For an abbreviated version, see Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 500–504.

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                                                                                          • Schmidt, Peter R., and Roderick J. McIntosh, eds. Plundering Africa’s Past. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                            Includes wide-ranging and informative studies of the cultural and political economic forces that are eroding African cultural heritage through illegal excavation and export of antiquities, museum practices, and cultural heritage legislation. A key collection for understanding the challenges confronting heritage conservation in Africa.

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                                                                                            • Wynne-Jones, Stephanie, and Martin Walsh. “Heritage, Tourism, and Slavery at Shimoni: Narrative and Metanarrative on the East African Coast.” History in Africa 37 (2010): 247–273.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/hia.2010.0030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Looks at the effects of UNESCO policy regarding the memorialization of slavery in relation to tourism and oral history of a “slave cave” on Kenya’s southern coast. Takes up questions of how contemporary processes condition knowledge of site use and shape history making and heritage production by multiple actors.

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                                                                                              Evidence and Sources

                                                                                              Archaeological evidence provides a critically important resource for understanding Africa’s pasts, but it does not stand alone. Archaeology’s material sources are augmented by insights from oral history or tradition; by comparative linguistic data; and by genetic, ethnographic, and paleoenvironmental insights (see also Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology, Historical Linguistics, and Environmental Reconstruction). The importance of oral tradition was recognized early on, and Vansina 1985, a handbook, remains a key work. Historians have tended to privileged oral and (where available) documentary evidence over archaeology’s material sources, in part because it was thought that archaeologists were asking questions and drawing on theories that did not adequately forward historical knowledge, as outlined by Vansina 1995. This piece should be read in conjunction with Robertshaw 2000, which offers an archaeological response to Vansina’s characterization. Archaeologists have long been concerned with the compatibilities and incompatibilities of sources and disciplinary premises. For a case study that explores these, see Stahl 2001. Lewis-Williams and Challis 2011 similarly explores the methodological challenges of using diverse sources of evidence including, in this case, rock art. MacEachern 2000 offers a sober and critical assessment of combining insights from linguistics, archaeology, and genetics. Magnavita and Schleifer 2004 reminds us of the possibilities opened up by geophysical survey that aids in augmenting the study of artifacts with better understanding of associated architectural features.

                                                                                              • Lewis-Williams, David, and Sam Challis. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2011.

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                                                                                                Focused on the rich rock art of southern Africa, this volume explores sources, techniques, and methods for studying rock art as culturally embedded practice. An accessibly written account of how prehistoric spiritual practices can be glimpsed through 19th-century documentary accounts, San-language sources, and rock art.

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                                                                                                • MacEachern, Scott. “Genes, Tribes and African History.” Current Anthropology 41 (2000): 357–384.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/300144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Critically engages the relationship between language, biology, and culture and the premises that underlie efforts to connect genetic, archaeological, and ethnographic data. Illustrates how simplistic assumptions that guide some genetic analyses are at odds with the complexities of history. Stresses the need for truly interdisciplinary studies of African population histories.

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                                                                                                  • Magnavita, Carlos, and Norbert Schleifer. “A Look into the Earth: Evaluating the Use of Magnetic Survey in African Archaeology.” Journal of African Archaeology 2 (2004): 49–63.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.3213/1612-1651-10018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Despite their value, geophysical survey techniques are rarely used in archaeological projects in Africa. The authors use results from a magnetic survey in the Chad Basin to argue for the value of geophysical surveying as a means to identify subsurface features and overcome the limitations of traditional survey methods.

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                                                                                                    • Robertshaw, Peter. “Sibling Rivalry? The Intersection of Archaeology and History.” History in Africa 27 (2000): 261–286.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/3172117Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Written as a response to Vansina 1995; explores the diverse theoretical perspectives that informed later 20th-century archaeology and responds to Vansina’s characterizations about archaeologists’ penchant for generalization and “extravagant extrapolation.” Uses Ugandan oral historical and archaeological sources to plumb the intersections of archaeology and history.

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                                                                                                      • Stahl, Ann Brower. Making History in Banda: Anthropological Visions of Africa’s Past. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511489600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Explores production of history in the present as well as the challenges and possibilities of combining diverse lines of evidence to explore the past. Discusses disciplinary legacies that have inhibited interdisciplinarity, methodological issues around upstreaming, and the supplementary use of sources through a case study of Ghanaian village life.

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                                                                                                        • Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition as History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                          More than an update of his pioneering 1961 book Oral Tradition, Vansina’s thoroughly revised methodological treatise on the use of oral tradition as a tool for historical insight remains a seminal and foundational text, even if today there is disagreement about some of his epistemological and methodological propositions.

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                                                                                                          • Vansina, Jan. “Historians, Are Archeologists Your Siblings?” History in Africa 22 (1995): 369–408.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/3171923Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Asks and answers (but see Robertshaw 2000) the question of why historians seem disinterested in the results of archaeological research, a disinterest that the author ascribes to differences in theory, methodology, and evidence. Advocates a direct historical approach that the author sees as more characteristic of Francophone rather than Anglophone African archaeology.

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                                                                                                            Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology

                                                                                                            Archaeological interpretation is aided by analogical insight drawn from ethnographic or ethnoarchaeological research. Ethnographic analogy can be used naively—projecting patterns anachronistically onto earlier contexts without critically and comparatively assessing their relevance, as discussed in Lane 2005. But it remains the case that archaeologists benefit from well-documented studies of the relationship between behavior or social practice and material patterning. This is the focus of ethnoarchaeology, as amply documented and well described in the seminal text David and Kramer 2001. MacEachern 1996 samples the variety of ethnoarchaeological research within Africa, while Gosselain 1998 demonstrates how detailed and careful ethnoarchaeological research informs on social processes (see also Ceramic Technologies).

                                                                                                            • David, Nicholas, and Carol Kramer. Ethnoarchaeology in Action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                              Pathbreaking text on ethnoarchaeology that addresses issues of theory and practice. Broad in scope and comprehensive in coverage, the volume includes many African examples and case studies. Thoroughly indexed and accompanied by a substantial bibliography.

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                                                                                                              • Gosselain, Olivier P. “Social and Technical Identity in a Clay Crystal Ball.” In The Archaeology of Social Boundaries. Edited by Miriam T. Stark, 78–106. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                Ceramic ethnoarchaeological study that explores the social production of ceramics in relation to learning processes. Offers an accessible discussion of the concept of “technological style” and methods for studying the chaîne opératoire of potting in an exploration of the relationship between technological style and social identity in southern Cameroon.

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                                                                                                                • Lane, Paul J. “Barbarous Tribes and Unrewarding Gyrations? The Changing Role of Ethnographic Imagination in African Archaeology.” In African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction. Edited by Ann Brower Stahl, 24–54. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                                                                                                  Traces developments in the use of ethnographic sources in archaeological interpretation in Africa, drawing on examples ranging from early hominin sites in the Olduvai Gorge to sites historically linked with Bantu-speaking people in southern Africa. Provides a useful introduction to the possibilities and challenges of relating ethnographic and archaeological sources.

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                                                                                                                  • MacEachern, Scott. “Foreign Countries: The Development of Ethnoarchaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of World Prehistory 10 (1996): 243–304.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF02286418Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    A comprehensive overview of the development, variability, and goals of African ethnoarchaeological research. Explores epistemological and methodological challenges of deriving insights from present-day societies to understand those of the past. A critically engaged introduction is followed by a geographically organized review, notable for its inclusion of Francophone studies.

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                                                                                                                    Environmental Reconstruction

                                                                                                                    Our understanding of human adaptations and past economies depends on knowing about the environmental settings in which past societies operated. Paleoclimatic reconstruction depends on diverse data sets and is thus inherently multidisciplinary in scope. Primary studies are typically published in scientific venues aimed at broad but knowledgeable audiences. Much current understanding of African paleoenvironments and their implications for paleoclimate derive from the study of multiple lines of evidence from deep lake cores. For East African examples, see Castañeda, et al. 2009 and Kiage and Liu 2006. For an important West African sequence, see Shanahan, et al. 2006. Leblanc, et al. 2006 provides an example of how remote sensing technologies aid in paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Maslin and Christensen 2007 provides an example of a synthetic paleoenvironmental study of the sort typically published in journals that cater to archaeologists, in this case with reference to questions of human evolution and adaptation (see also Early Hominins and Early Modern Humans). Grove 1993 is now dated in its details, but the chapter provides readers with background on African climates that remains useful to the introductory reader.

                                                                                                                    • Castañeda, Isla S., Josef P. Werne, Thomas C. Johnson, and Timothy R. Filley. “Late Quaternary Vegetation History of Southeast Africa: The Molecular Isotopic Record from Lake Malawi.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 275 (2009): 100–112.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.02.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      One among a number of later publications based on deeply stratified, well-dated lake core sequences that lend insight into the variability of East African environments since the Last Glacial Maximum. This contribution centers on evidence for shifting vegetational associations and their implications for climate change.

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                                                                                                                      • Grove, A. T. “Africa’s Climate in the Holocene.” In The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns. Edited by Thurstan Shaw, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko, 32–42. London: Routledge, 1993.

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                                                                                                                        Though now dated in terms of data and its interpretation, provides useful background on sources of evidence and inferential practice.

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                                                                                                                        • Kiage, Lawrence M., and Kam-biu Liu. “Late Quaternary Paleoenvironmental Changes in East Africa: A Review of Multiproxy Evidence from Palynology, Lake Sediments, and Associated Records.” Progress in Physical Geography 30 (2006): 633–658.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0309133306071146Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Synthesizes data of diverse types and from a range of East African locales to characterize the climatic shifts and vegetational changes of the last forty thousand years. The authors stress the complexity of the record and the challenges of identifying climatic factors in the face of human modification of environments.

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                                                                                                                          • Leblanc, Marc J., Christian Leduc, Frank Stagnitti, et al. “Evidence for Megalake Chad, North-Central Africa, during the Late Quaternary from Satellite Data.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 230 (2006): 230–242.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.07.016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Addresses questions around the existence of a Megalake Chad with implications for understandings of Holocene tectonics, climatic fluctuations, and paleohydrology. Good example of the use of remote sensing technology to map ancient shorelines, rivers, and deltas through satellite imagery.

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                                                                                                                            • Maslin, Mark A., and Beth A. Christensen. “Introduction: Tectonics, Orbital Forcing, Global Climate Change, and Human Evolution in Africa.” In Special Issue: African Paleoclimate and Human Evolution. Edited by Mark A. Maslin and Beth A. Christensen. Journal of Human Evolution 53.5 (2007): 443–464.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.06.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Special journal edition on African paleoclimate and human evolution compiles recent research that overturns many earlier hypotheses regarding the relationship between climatic change and human evolution. Focuses on how evolutionary processes may have been affected by rapidly shifting conditions caused by changes in the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

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                                                                                                                              • Shanahan, Timothy M., Jonathan T. Overpeck, C. Winston Wheeler, et al. “Paleoclimatic Variations in West Africa from a Record of Late Pleistocene and Holocene Lake Level Stands of Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 242 (2006): 287–302.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2006.06.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Situated in the Ghanaian forest, Lake Bosumtwi occupies a meteoric crater formed over a million years ago. The deeply stratified lake sequence yields paleoclimatic indicators that inform on late Pleistocene and Holocene climatic change, lending insight into how climatic change in Africa related to that of northern latitudes.

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                                                                                                                                Historical Linguistics

                                                                                                                                Variability and commonalities among contemporary languages hold important clues to their historical relationships. As such, historical linguistics provides an important source of insight that can usefully be brought into dialogue with archaeological evidence. Whereas some historical linguists have attempted ambitious reconstructions that at times paper over the tenuous nature of the evidence—particularly for periods far removed from the present or poorly known archaeologically—others are more sober in their approach. For an example of the former, see Ehret 2002. For the latter, see Nurse 1997, which provides an accessible discussion of methodology. Bostoen 2007 provides an example of the “words and things” method of historical reconstruction that is notable for its critical engagement with multiple sources. Güldemann and Stoneking 2008 offers a fine example of interdisciplinary cooperation between a linguist and a geneticist in assessing claims around the relationship between language and population in southern Africa.

                                                                                                                                • Bostoen, Koen. “Pots, Words and the Bantu Problem: On Lexical Reconstruction and Early African History.” Journal of African History 48 (2007): 173–199.

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                                                                                                                                  Addresses debates over the origins and spread of Bantu languages across central, eastern, and southern Africa through the “words and things” method of historical reconstruction. Adopts an interdisciplinary approach with particular attention to pottery fabrication. Useful for its focus on methodology and critical engagement with multiple lines of evidence.

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                                                                                                                                  • Ehret, Christopher. The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                    Ambitious text that combines word histories and archaeological evidence to produce reconstructions of African societies extending back to the terminal Pleistocene. Light on discussion of methods and data incompatibilities; reconstructions for recent time periods are more convincing than those for earlier periods when much depends on extrapolation from extant diversity.

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                                                                                                                                    • Güldemann, Tom, and Mark Stoneking. “A Historical Appraisal of Clicks: A Linguistic and Genetic Population Perspective.” Annual Review of Anthropology 37 (2008): 93–109.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.37.081407.085109Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Critically engages the presumption that the clicks characteristic of historic hunting-gathering groups are an ancient linguistic feature inherited genealogically from a geographically widespread common ancestral language. Comparatively explores historical linguistic and genetic evidence in relation to multiple hypotheses. Fine example of the value of critically engaged multidisciplinary perspectives.

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                                                                                                                                      • Nurse, Derek. “The Contributions of Linguistics to the Study of History in Africa.” Journal of African History 38 (1997): 359–391.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0021853797007044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Overview of the strengths and weaknesses of comparative and historical linguistic techniques and methods and their value for historical reconstruction. Describes innovations in linguistic analysis for an interdisciplinary audience with particular focus on classification, reconstruction, and contact. A useful primer well grounded in examples.

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                                                                                                                                        Early Hominins

                                                                                                                                        Africa is the site of early hominin evolution and home to the earliest archaeological traces. Key questions center on relationships among early hominin ancestors as exemplified by Grine, et al. 2009. Archaeologists debate the role of stone tools in hominin adaptation and how variability among stone tool assemblages is related to paleoenvironmental settings, as illustrated by Grove 2011 and Hovers and Braun 2009. Others question tool use as a distinctive feature of hominin adaptation and, like Toth and Schick 2009, look to our closest living primate relatives for insights into the development of stone tool technologies. Regional variability and technological processes implied by stone tool assemblages are another key topic, as illustrated by de la Torre 2011 and Sahnouni 2005. The environments occupied and implications of climatic change for hominin evolution remain important topics for current research, as, for example, Bobe, et al. 2007 and Bonnefille 2010.

                                                                                                                                        • Bobe, René, Zeresenay Alemseged, and Anna K. Behrensmeyer, eds. Hominin Environments in the East African Pliocene: An Assessment of the Faunal Evidence. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2007.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-3098-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          A unique collection of essays in that its focus is on the animal remains from hominin fossil locales, with studies ranging from micromammals to diverse large mammals. Chapters by top scholars offer important insights into Pliocene paleoenvironments with implications for hominin paleoecology.

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                                                                                                                                          • Bonnefille, Raymonde. “Cenozoic Vegetation, Climate Changes, and Hominid Evolution in Tropical Africa.” Global and Planetary Change 72 (2010): 390–411.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.01.015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            A premier paleobotanist integrates information from terrestrial and oceanic sources to investigate broad patterning in the distribution of vegetational zones in Africa over the last 10 million years, exploring implications for the distribution and evolution of early hominin species. New data imply greater variability in vegetational changes than previously understood.

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                                                                                                                                            • de la Torre, Ignacio. “The Early Stone Age Lithic Assemblages of Gadeb (Ethiopia) and the Developed Oldowan/Early Acheulean in East Africa.” Journal of Human Evolution 60 (2011): 768–812.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.01.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Synthetic review of the earliest stone tool assemblages from Ethiopia, which have been central to paleoanthropological debates regarding the character, role, and technologies of the Early Stone Age. Amply illustrated analysis of the operational sequences of flaking with implications for the emergence and variability of Acheulean reduction sequences and technology.

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                                                                                                                                              • Grine, Frederick E., John G. Fleagle, and Richard E. Leakey, eds. The First Humans: Origins of the Genus Homo. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9980-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Proceedings of a conference focused on the earliest evidence for the genus Homo with contributions on the paleoanthropology and archaeology of Homo habilis, H. rudolfensis, and H. erectus. Explores historical and theoretical perspectives and grapples with questions including the timing, number of species, and adaptations of early human ancestors.

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                                                                                                                                                • Grove, Matt. “Speciation, Diversity, and Mode 1 Technologies: The Impact of Variability Selection.” Journal of Human Evolution 61 (2011): 306–319.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.04.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Advances in paleoclimatic modeling have forced reconsideration of older models about the environmental contexts of human evolution with current evidence suggesting variability and rapid remodeling of habitats occupied by early hominins. Calls into question earlier habitat-specific hypotheses and favors behavioral versatility that can be assessed through Early Stone Age technologies.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Hovers, Erella, and David R. Braun, eds. Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Oldowan. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9060-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Reviews the current state of thinking around the earliest stone tool assemblages, asking about the raw materials used, the steps in their manufacture, and how they were used and discarded. Argues for the importance of studying variability and considering relationships among geographically diverse assemblages.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Sahnouni, Mohamed, ed. Le Paléolithique en Afrique: L’histoire la plus longue. Paris: Artcom, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                      A valuable French-language collection focused on the earliest human ancestors and their lithic technologies, with emphasis on regional patterning, variation, and the emergence of modern humans. Geographically uneven, but valuable for its coverage of North Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Toth, Nicholas, and Kathy Schick. “The Oldowan: The Tool Making of Early Hominins and Chimpanzees Compared.” Annual Review of Anthropology 38 (2009): 289–305.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164521Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Explores the character of the earliest stone tool assemblages in relation to observations of tool making and using among modern apes. The study involved an experiment in teaching modern bonobos to produce and use stone tools, with potential implications for understanding hominin technological facility and practice.

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                                                                                                                                                        Early Modern Humans

                                                                                                                                                        The Middle Pleistocene saw the emergence of anatomically modern humans, and, as recent archaeological and genetic evidence makes clear, early modern humans appeared first in Africa. The recognition that modern humans appeared earlier in Africa than elsewhere in the world has vitalized studies of Africa’s Middle Stone Age and required a rethinking of scenarios based on European evidence that posited a revolutionary transformation from archaic to modern humans. McBrearty and Brooks 2000 provided one of the first syntheses of African evidence aimed at unsettling conventional understandings around early modern humans, a theme that is more extensively explored in Mellars, et al. 2007. The growing appreciation of the importance of Africa—and particularly southern Africa—as a site for the development of fully modern humans has renewed interest in earlier excavations, such as those by Singer and Wymer at Klasies River Mouth (see Singer and Wymer 1982). The South African coast has been a key region for recent research, as, for example, that at Pinnacle Point, introduced by Marean 2010, or that described in the Lombard, et al. 2008 collection of essays. Wadley 2010 reminds us that the full story of early modern human adaptation may not be told through stone tools as the author offers an example of how insights on more recent hunting practices may help us to understand those of the past (see also Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology). Willoughby 2007 provides a comprehensive overview of the issues and evidence relevant to the study of early modern humans in Africa and their place in the story of human evolution.

                                                                                                                                                        • Lombard, Marlize, Christine Sievers, and Valerie Ward, eds. Current Themes in Middle Stone Age Research. South African Archaeological Society Goodwin Series 10. Vlaeberg, South Africa: South African Archaeological Society, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                          A collection of essays honoring Lyn Wadley that captures the current state of investigations into the archaeological history of early modern humans in southern Africa. Top scholars review the state of the field, identify lacunae in understanding, and propose areas for future research. Abundant line drawings and photographs accompany the text.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Marean, Curtis W. “Introduction to the Special Issue—The Middle Stone Age at Pinnacle Point Site 13B, a Coastal Cave near Mossel Bay (Western Cape Province, South Africa).” Journal of Human Evolution 59.3–4 (2010): 231–233.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.07.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Introduces a collection of twelve articles on technically and methodologically sophisticated investigations of Middle Stone Age contexts at Pinnacle Point on South Africa’s southern coast. Articles discuss the taphonomy, dating, and material remains of Marine Isotope Stage 5 and 6 contexts (c. 85–195 kyBP), with significance for understanding behavioral modernity.

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                                                                                                                                                            • McBrearty, Sally, and Alison S. Brooks. “The Revolution that Wasn’t: A New Interpretation of the Origin of Modern Human Behaviour.” Journal of Human Evolution 39 (2000): 453–563.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1006/jhev.2000.0435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Landmark article for its argument that key components of modern human behavior developed gradually and first in Africa rather than rapidly in Europe as had long been posited. Reviews fossil evidence for anatomically modern humans and evidence of practices associated with behavioral modernity in Africa’s Middle Stone Age. Comprehensive bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Mellars, Paul, Katie Boyle, Ofer Bar-Yosef, and Chris Stringer, eds. Rethinking the Human Revolution: New Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origin and Dispersal of Modern Humans. Cambridge, UK: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                With coverage of Eurasia as well as Africa, a collection of essays by top scholars covering central debates on the origins of modern humans, including those centered on phylogenetic and biological relationships, cognitive capacity, and behavioral practices. Important collection of primary research.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Singer, Ronald, and John Wymer. The Middle Stone Age at Klasies River Mouth in South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed report of excavations at this important Middle Stone Age site. Although debates have moved on since the publication of this monograph, it remains important for its descriptive analysis of the sites of stone tool assemblages and their stratigraphic contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Wadley, Lyn. “Were Snares and Traps Used in the Middle Stone Age and Does It Matter? A Review and a Case Study from Sibudu, South Africa.” Journal of Human Evolution 58 (2010): 179–192.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.10.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Explores the relationship between cognition and remote capture technologies (snares and traps) that are “out of sight” but not “out of mind.” Offers bridging arguments for how to recognize snaring and its relevance to Howiesons Poort faunal assemblages. Underscores the variability in Middle Stone Age faunal assemblages and techniques of food acquisition.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Willoughby, Pamela R. The Evolution of Modern Humans in Africa: A Comprehensive Guide. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A synthesis of evidence and debates around the appearance of anatomically and behaviorally modern humans. Provides background on the history of thought and diverse lines of evidence including paleoenvironmental and genetic data, followed by a geographically organized review of archaeological data.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Pleistocene and Holocene Hunter-Gatherers

                                                                                                                                                                      “Hunting and gathering” is a label used to encompass adaptive patterns that characterized human lifeways during the Pleistocene and Holocene, and in some cases extending into the present day. Societies that pursued foraging lifestyles in recent centuries were long viewed by scholars as “survivals” whose lifestyles could be used as a source of analogical insight into past lifeways (see Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology). Recent research challenges these ideas and points to the diverse lifestyles and varied practices of groups identified as “hunter-gatherers” through time and across space. Barham and Mitchell 2008 synthesizes more recent research on a continent-wide basis in an approach innovative for its consideration of hunter-gatherer’s interactions with herding and farming peoples. This latter theme is also considered in Kusimba 2003, which endeavors to bridge divides that had emerged between those who adopted historical perspectives on hunter-gatherers and stressed their connections with other populations and those who approached the study of hunting gathering from evolutionary perspectives. Other works present regionally focused analyses of hunting-gathering lifestyles in contexts ranging from the Pleistocene through the Holocene. Rahmani 2004 presents a reanalysis of the technology and residential strategies of Holocene North African hunter-gatherers, while Mercader and Brooks 2001 reevaluates generalizations about the colonization of tropical forested regions by hunter-gatherers. Mitchell, et al. 2011 highlights the variability and historical contingency of hunter-gatherer activities based on the authors’ study of stratified assemblages from interior southern Africa, while Sealy 2006 is exemplary of the value of a comparative approach to analogical modeling and the use of multiple lines of evidence in reconstructing the lifeways of prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Barham, Lawrence, and Peter Mitchell. The First Africans: African Archaeology from the Earliest Tool Makers to Most Recent Foragers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511817830Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        A unique synthetic volume that summarizes the evidence and debates about the character and dynamism of hunting-gathering-foraging peoples of Africa from the earliest Plio-Pleistocene archaeological expressions through recent times. Organized in terms of geological and climatic “epochs,” the volume highlights the diversity of Africa’s foraging peoples in time and space.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Kusimba, Sibel Barut. African Foragers: Environment, Technology, Interactions. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Explores varied hunting-gathering lifeways across the continent, beginning with the earliest archaeological traces extending through recent times. Considers changing anthropological perspectives on hunter-gatherers and how hunter-gatherers related to their farming and herding neighbors. Seeks to overcome evolutionary and historical divides in hunter-gatherer studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Mercader, Julio, and Alison S. Brooks. “Across Forests and Savannas: Later Stone Age Assemblages from Ituri and Semliki, Democratic Republic of Congo.” Journal of Anthropological Research 57 (2001): 197–217.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Describes the lithic assemblages from sites in varied ecological settings, documenting the standardized reduction sequences that characterized production of both informal and formal tools. Argues that raw materials were deliberately rather than expediently selected, and that specialized stone tools were not a prerequisite of forest settlement.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Mitchell, Peter, Ina Plug, Geoff Bailey, et al. “Beyond the Drip-Line: A High-Resolution Open-Air Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Sequence from Highland Lesotho.” Antiquity 85.330 (2011): 1225–1242.

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                                                                                                                                                                              The remarkable stratified open-air riverside site of Likoaeng has yielded insight into subsistence patterns and climatic variability in the period 1300 BCE to 800 CE in a sequence that documents the variability and historical contingency of hunter-gatherer activities. Explores the tool kits, use of space, and subsistence over time.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Rahmani, Noura. “Technological and Cultural Change among the Last Hunter-Gatherers of the Maghreb: The Capsian (10,000-6,000 B.P.).” Journal of World Prehistory 18 (2004): 57–105.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1023/B:JOWO.0000038658.50738.ebSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                A reanalysis of the relationship between the two major subdivisions of the North African Epipaleolithic: the Typical and Upper Capsian. Explores issues of raw material use and specialization in stone tool production, as well as questions around environmental change and residential mobility. Extensive bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Sealy, Judith. “Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern among Holocene Hunter-Gatherers in Southernmost Africa.” Current Anthropology 47 (2006): 569–595.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/504163Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines ethnographic models of hunting-gathering derived from interior groups in comparison to archaeological patterns on South Africa’s southernmost coast. Draws on multiple lines of evidence—stable isotope analysis of human skeletal remains, settlement data, and subsistence data—to explore residential mobility and social interaction between 4,500 and 2,000 years ago.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Holocene Transitions

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Holocene saw continuation of hunting-gathering lifestyles that were in some areas augmented by the addition of new technologies (e.g., ceramics; see also Ceramic Technologies) and changes in residential mobility. These were changes that in earlier decades were seen as preludes to food production (see also Pastoralism and Cultivation and Plant Use), the transition to which was assumed to be both inevitable and to follow a pathway similar to that reconstructed for the Near East and western Eurasia. Research in recent decades has made it apparent that terms like the “Mesolithic” or “Neolithic” that are used to capture key shifts in subsistence practices and settlement in Eurasia conceal more than they reveal about Holocene transitions in Africa. References cited here capture the shift in thinking in relation to a variety of geographical settings. Holl 2004 offers a synthesis for the Sahara that is usefully augmented by Gifford-Gonzalez 2008, a collection on Adrar Bous. Debates around later Holocene settlement of the wooded savanna and forests of West and Central Africa are sampled in the contributions of Watson 2010 and Lavachery 2001. Robbins 2006 and Prendergast 2010 address the issues and introduce readers to the relevant evidence from East Africa, while Hildebrand, et al. 2010 provides insight on Holocene occupations of Ethiopia, an overlooked region in relation to these questions. If there is a theme that emerges from recent work, it is the variety of localized responses to changing environmental and social landscapes through the course of the Holocene, responses that cannot be easily accommodated within categories imported from the study of other world areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gifford-Gonzalez, Diane, ed. Adrar Bous: Archaeology of a Central Saharan Granitic Ring Complex in Niger. Tervuren, Belgium: Royal Museum for Central Africa, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Presents primary data from the central Saharan relevant to human occupation from the Pleistocene (Late Acheulean and Middle Stone Age Aterian occupations) through early and mid-Holocene occupations (Kiffian associated with bone harpoons and the Tenerian associated with cattle keeping). Well illustrated and rich in primary data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hildebrand, Elisabeth Anne, Steven Andrew Brandt, and Joséphine Lesur-Gebremariam. “The Holocene Archaeology of Southwest Ethiopia: New Insights from the Kafa Archaeological Project.” African Archaeological Review 27 (2010): 255–289.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s10437-010-9079-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Rock shelters in southwestern Ethiopia have yielded a distinctive Holocene sequence in which plant domestication may predate domestic animals. Microlithic technology was used in hunting during the middle Holocene, with herding and ceramics first appearing about two thousand years ago. Use of microliths and rock shelters continued into the 18th century CE.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Holl, Augustin F. C. Holocene Saharans: An Anthropological Perspective. London: Continuum, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the development of Holocene Saharan societies from a social evolutionary perspective. Topics addressed include the early Holocene transition from foraging to herding; the interactions of pastoralists, metallurgists, and cultivators; complexity in village contexts; and the formation of the Kanem-Bornu Empire. Lacks a concluding chapter, but accompanied by useful bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lavachery, Philippe. “The Holocene Archaeological Sequence of Shum Laka Rock Shelter (Grassfields, Western Cameroon).” African Archaeological Review 18 (2001): 213–247.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1023/A:1013114008855Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          An important rock shelter site that spans the period from the Late Pleistocene through recent centuries, Shum Laka provides insight into continuities and change in environment context, technological and economic practice in a deeply stratified sequence that is virtually unique in tropical Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Prendergast, Mary E., ed. “Introduction.” In Special Issue: Diversity in East African Foraging and Food Producing Communities. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 45.1 (2010): 1–5.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Concise, informative introduction to a special journal issue that explores the distinctiveness and diversity of East African Holocene strategies of foraging and food production. Other articles explore issues of flexibility, risk reduction, and intergroup relations in shaping resource strategies, and describe foraging patterns that are not represented in the African ethnographic record.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Robbins, Lawrence H. “Lake Turkana Archaeology: The Holocene.” Ethnohistory 53 (2006): 71–93.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1215/00141801-53-1-71Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              First-person account by an archaeologist who pioneered investigations into the Holocene archaeology of this area, better known for its hominin fossil finds. Describes the history of research, key sites associated with early ceramics and bone harpoons, Pastoral Neolithic occupations, and stone pillar sites.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Watson, Derek J. “Within Savanna and Forest: A Review of the Late Stone Age Kintampo Tradition, Ghana.” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 45 (2010): 141–174.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2010.491361Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Summarizes available evidence and substantive questions that remain around the distinctive later Holocene (c. 3,600–3,200 years ago) Kintampo occupations of Ghana with respect to settlement, subsistence, ornamentation, and exchange. Endeavors to move beyond polarized debates about diffusion and migration to explore social and economic implications of temporal and spatial patterning.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Ceramic Technologies

                                                                                                                                                                                                The invention of ceramic technology transformed the dietary practices of those who embraced the possibilities of fired clay vessels, which Huysecom, et al. 2009 argues had occurred by the 10th millennium BCE in Mali. Ceramics is a medium that also allows a broader range of stylistic expression. As such, archaeological pottery has long been assumed by analysts to lend insights into cultural affiliation, whether through vessel form, decorative technique, or combinations thereof. However, recent research in Africa and elsewhere has questioned simplistic relationships between ceramics and “ethnic” or cultural groups, as discussed in Pikirayi 2007. Instead, ethnoarchaeological studies (see also Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology) are yielding insight into aspects of style beyond vessel form and decoration—for example, vessel forming techniques—that are transmitted via learning networks, as explored in Gosselain 2010. This is inspiring new and detailed studies of tools used in pottery decoration—specifically roulettes—and the cultural connections that might be revealed by studying their fashioning and techniques of application, as illustrated by Livingstone Smith 2007 and Haour, et al. 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gosselain, Olivier P. “Ethnographie comparée des trousses à outils de potiers au sud du Niger.” Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française 107 (2010): 667–689.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spatial analysis of the tools and shaping techniques of pottery production in southern Niger based on ethnographic study in 350 communities. Presents descriptions of forming via molds, coiling, scraping, and paddling along with the variable tools used in these forming and smoothing techniques. Useful illustrations of both techniques and tools.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Haour, A., K. Manning, N. Arazi, et al., eds. African Pottery Roulettes Past and Present: Techniques, Identification and Distribution. Oxford: Oxbow, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Informed by learning theory, documents the variety of ethnographic roulettes (objects used to impress designs on pottery); proposes a classificatory framework based on roulette material, manipulation, and manner of application; provides a methodology for archaeological analysis; and documents archaeological examples. A vital tool for studying African ceramics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Huysecom, E., M. Rasse, L. Lespez, et al. “The Emergence of Pottery in Africa during the Tenth Millennium cal BC: New Evidence from Ounjougou (Mali).” Antiquity 83 (2009): 905–917.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses the 10th-millennium BCE context and dating of early ceramic finds in northern Mali associated with a period of climatic amelioration and expanding grasslands. Pottery appears as an element of a new technological suite suited for savanna hunting and processing of wild grains through boiling.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Livingstone Smith, A. “Histoire de décor à la roulette en Afrique subsaharienne.” Journal of African Archaeology 5 (2007): 198–216.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3213/1612-1651-10092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A synthetic analysis of the history and distribution of roulette-decorated ceramics in western and central Africa that addresses the variety of roulettes and the differential distribution of fiber and wood roulettes through time and across space, and explores implications for processes of diffusion. Discussion aided by useful illustrations and maps.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pikirayi, Innocent. “Ceramics and Group Identities: Towards a Social Archaeology in Southern African Iron Age Ceramic Studies.” Journal of Social Archaeology 7 (2007): 286–301.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1469605307081389Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Challenges the long-standing tendency to see ceramic types as linked to social or cultural identities. Argues for the importance of considering ceramics in relation to other categories of material culture and of investigating questions beyond the utilitarian function and ethnic associations of pottery.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pastoralism

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Archaeological research on pastoralism has centered on questions of origins, pastoralism’s timing and relationship to plant cultivation, and its relationship to political complexity (see also Cultivation and Plant Use and States and Complex Societies). Investigations of the origins of pastoralism have hinged on the contemporary distribution of wild precursors of domesticated species (some indigenous to Africa, others not), archaeological finds of domesticates, and genetic evidence. As in the case of other topics in African archaeology (see Early Modern Humans, Holocene Transitions, Cultivation and Plant Use, Metallurgy, and States and Complex Societies), early studies of pastoral groups were shaped by expectations derived from understandings of pastoralism and its origins in other world areas. Garcea 2004 explores the constraining effects of Near Eastern models on investigations in the Sahara, where pastoralism developed alongside intensive use of wild grains. Marshall and Hildebrand 2002 similarly challenges perspectives drawn from the Near East and offers a comprehensive analysis of the timing and motivations for transitions to food production where they occurred. Gifford-Gonzalez and Hanotte 2011 provides an up-to-date summary of what is known about animal domestication based on multiple lines of evidence from archaeology, genetics, and the distribution of animal diseases. Linseele 2010 offers a comparative analysis of specialized pastoralism and its development in Africa and the Near East. Linseele’s study underscores the need to be cautious about projecting ethnographic patterns into the past (see also Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology). Sadr 2003 contributes to our understanding of the variability of pastoral adaptations by exploring evidence for the incorporation of domesticated animals into hunting-gathering lifestyles in southern Africa. Denbow, et al. 2008 provides an example of the questions posed by archaeologists in relation to how pastoralism operates in the context of social stratification and political complexity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Denbow, James, Jeannette Smith, Nonofho Mathibidi Ndobochani, Kirsten Atwood, and Duncan Miller. “Archaeological Excavations at Bosutswe, Botswana: Cultural Chronology, Paleo-ecology and Economy.” Journal of Archaeological Science 35 (2008): 459–480.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2007.04.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The deeply stratified Bosutswe site on the eastern edge of the Kalahari demonstrates shifting practices of herd management in a socially stratified society over the 2nd millennium CE. Uses multiple lines of evidence to discern the relationship among relations of production, food ways, and social, political, and economic stratification.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Garcea, Elena A. A. “An Alternative Way towards Food Production: The Perspective from the Libyan Sahara.” Journal of World Prehistory 18 (2004): 107–154.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s10963-004-2878-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that our understanding of early food production in northern Africa has been constrained by Near Eastern models and an emphasis on diffusionary scenarios. Explores the distinctive pathway that Saharan populations took in developing strategies of food production rooted in nomadic pastoralism and intensive exploitation of wild grains.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gifford-Gonzalez, Diane, and Olivier Hanotte. “Domesticating Animals in Africa: Implications of Genetic and Archaeological Findings.” Journal of World Prehistory 24 (2011): 1–23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/s10963-010-9042-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reviews the state of knowledge regarding the earliest appearances and genetic affiliations of domestic animals in Africa. Considers multiple lines of evidence (archaeological finds, rock art, disease, and genetic data) and discusses coevolution as a complex process through which humans and animals adjusted to one another and their changing environments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Linseele, Veerle. “Did Specialized Pastoralism Develop Differently in Africa than in the Near East? An Example from the West African Sahel.” Journal of World Prehistory 23 (2010): 43–77.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s10963-010-9033-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Departs from the preoccupation with geographical origins and timing of animal domestication to focus on the emergence of specialized pastoralism viewed comparatively in relation to what is known about pastoralist development in the Near East. Argues that recent forms of African pastoral nomadism cannot be projected into the past.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Marshall, Fiona, and Elisabeth Hildebrand. “Cattle before Crops: The Beginnings of Food Production in Africa.” Journal of World Prehistory 16 (2002): 99–143.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1023/A:1019954903395Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Explores the distinctive pathways to food production in Africa, highlighting three themes: early cattle domestication in northeastern Africa, the uneven spread of food production, and the relatively late domestication of plants. The authors posit that short-term predictability in food supply rather than yield was a key catalyst to domestication.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sadr, Karim. “The Neolithic of Southern Africa.” Journal of African History 44 (2003): 195–209.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Against the backdrop of debates around the use of the term “neolithic” in Africa, reviews evidence for domestic sheep in southern Africa and argues for their incorporation into a pattern of low-intensity food production by hunting-gathering groups. Useful review of terminological debates and the history of interpretation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cultivation and Plant Use

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Plant remains from archaeological contexts have most often been analyzed in contexts where archaeologists were investigating the origins of agriculture. As with other transitions perceived as manifesting progressive development or social evolution (see also Pastoralism, Metallurgy, States and Complex Societies), there was a perceived need to establish the fact of early and independent plant domestication in Africa. Efforts focused on documenting the geographical distribution of the wild precursors of African domesticates, their areas of greatest concentration and diversity, and, where available, ancient plant remains. Two now dated landmark edited volumes—Harlan, et al. 1976 and Clark and Brandt 1984—summarized the state of knowledge regarding early agriculture prior to expanded research of recent years. As argued by Neumann 2005, early investigations were constrained by the “romance of farming” and the hegemony of Near Eastern models. Like pastoralism (see Pastoralism), the history of plant cultivation in Africa departs from the expectations generated by Near Eastern models, with evidence for domesticates being later than anticipated. Instead, many African contexts are characterized by intensive use of wild resources. Archaeobotany in Africa is a burgeoning area of research frequently reported on in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Included are studies of wild plant use, which Deacon 1976 documented early on as an important component of hunter-gatherer diets. Another topic of growing interest is the effect of global connections on foodways and plant cultivation. Alpern 2008 chronicles the exotic plants that have been adopted in West Africa based on textual sources, while Walshaw 2010 uses archaeological data to explore dietary change in relation to the Indian Ocean trade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Alpern, Stanley B. “Exotic Plants of Western Africa: Where They Came From and When.” History in Africa 35 (2008): 63–102.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/hia.0.0018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Compendium of more than 250 introductions over the last half millennium of exotic cereals, tubers, condiments, spices, beverages, ornamentals, and other nonfood plants as reconstructed from historical and botanical sources. Compromised by inattention to archaeobotanical sources and processes through which exotic plants were incorporated, but a useful compilation and bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Clark, J. Desmond, and Steven A. Brandt, eds. From Hunters to Farmers: Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Though dated in relation to current debates and evidence, this collection remains important in terms of contextualizing interpretations of the causes and consequences of food production. Continent-wide coverage includes chapters on both plant cultivation and pastoralism, with perspectives drawn from archaeology, historical linguistics, and botany.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Deacon, H. J. Where Hunters Gathered: A Study of Holocene Stone Age People in the Eastern Cape. South African Archaeological Society Monograph Series 1. Claremont, South Africa: South African Archaeological Society, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dry conditions in caves of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, preserved ancient plant remains that inform on diet, seasonality, and technology (e.g., cordage and netting). Embedded in this primary report of excavations at several sites is a pioneering analysis of plant remains left by foragers who occupied Melkhoutboom Cave.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Harlan, Jack R., Jan M. J. de Wet, and Ann B. L. Stemler, eds. Origins of African Plant Domestication. The Hague: Mouton, 1976.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/9783110806373Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An important legacy volume that resulted from a 1972 conference sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The conference brought together agronomists, archaeologists, and anthropologists to explore the history and development of indigenous African agriculture. Important for collating what was known and for setting the terms of future debate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Neumann, Katharina. “The Romance of Farming: Plant Cultivation and Domestication in Africa.” In African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction. Edited by Ann Brower Stahl, 249–275. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A practicing archaeobotanist examines models for agricultural origins and transitions in light of available evidence. Important for its consideration of alternative explanations and attention to the importance of both wild and cultivated resources in contexts where people faced environmental insecurity through diversification in a “middle ground” between foraging and farming.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany: The Journal of Quaternary Plant Ecology, Palaeoclimate and Ancient Agriculture. 1992–.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This peer-reviewed journal of the International Working Group for Palaeoethnobotany serves as a primary outlet for research in African archaeobotany with contributions relevant to plant use (wild and domestic) and environmental reconstruction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Walshaw, Sarah C. “Converting to Rice: Urbanization, Islamization and Crops on Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 700–1500.” World Archaeology 42 (2010): 137–154.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/00438240903430399Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Uses archaeobotanical data to explore dietary change associated with oceanic trade and the spread of Islam on the East African coast. Despite ecological risks, evidence suggests a shift to specialized rice farming on Pemba Island after the 11th century CE, implying that social and political motivations prompted dietary change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Metallurgy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The study of African metallurgy, like the study of other topics that were seen by early scholars as linked to questions of progress and social evolution (see Pastoralism, Cultivation and Plant Use, States and Complex Societies, Urbanism), has been dominated by questions of origins and diffusion of metallurgical technologies. It is a field divided between those who support an early and independent origin of iron metallurgy in Africa and those who believe that the jury remains out on this question. Holl 2009 is an example of the former, Killick 2009 of the latter. Both provide detailed reviews of available evidence and valuable pathways into the literature. Schmidt has also argued in favor of the notion that iron smelting developed early and independently in Africa, as, for example, in Schmidt 1997, which builds on insights both archaeological and ethnoarchaeological (see Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology). Bisson, et al. 2000 is useful for its descriptions of metallurgical practice, complemented by Miller 2002. These two provide the novice reader with a good understanding of the techniques of various types of metallurgy (e.g., copper, iron). Importantly, metallurgy is not simply a technological process. It is deeply embedded in social practices, as discussed by Herbert 1993 (also Schmidt 1997). Chirikure 2007 provides an example of how archaeologists address questions around metallurgical production in relation to the social and political contexts in which it is practiced, a good example of a study that moves away from a narrow focus on origins and diffusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bisson, Michael S., S. Terry Childs, Philip de Barros, and Augustin F. C. Holl. Ancient African Metallurgy: The Socio-cultural Context. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An opening chapter compares the sequence of metallurgical development in four West African locales (Holl), followed by chapters on precolonial copper metallurgy (Bisson) and iron metallurgy (de Barros), and a narrative of the technological and ritual sequence of Ugandan ironsmithing and smelting (Childs). Rich in accessibly described technological detail.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Chirikure, Shadreck. “Metals in Society: Iron Production and Its Position in Iron Age Communities of Southern Africa.” Journal of Social Archaeology 7 (2007): 72–100.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/1469605307073164Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Considers the role of iron metal working in the configuration and reconfiguration of power in political economic context. Discusses variability in political scale among iron-using societies, the organization and gendered character of production, and production by independent and attached specialists using three archaeological examples. An insightful study with useful bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Herbert, Eugenia W. Iron, Gender, and Power: Rituals of Transformation in African Societies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Uses ethnographic and historical sources to explore iron technology in relation to ritual and social practice and its role as a transformative practice associated with fertility and bound up in the production of power and authority. Valuable for its contextualized comparative data, depth of insight, and detailed referencing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Holl, Augustin F. C. “Early West African Metallurgies: New Data and Old Orthodoxy.” Journal of World Prehistory 22 (2009): 415–438.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s10963-009-9030-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Revisits debates on iron metallurgy in West Africa—whether the product of diffusion or independent development—and reviews early evidence for metallurgy. Argues in favor of experimentation and the importance of social demand for metals as prestige goods as an early impetus to metal production.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Killick, David. “Cairo to Cape: The Spread of Metallurgy through Eastern and Southern Africa.” Journal of World Prehistory 22 (2009): 399–414.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s10963-009-9025-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reviews available evidence for the antiquity of metallurgy (copper, silver, gold, lead, tin, and iron) in Egypt and Nubia, the Great Lakes region, and southern Africa. Stresses the incompleteness of current evidence as well as the important differences that characterized early African metallurgy compared to other world areas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Miller, Duncan M. “Smelter and Smith: Iron Age Metal Fabrication Technology in Southern Africa.” Journal of Archaeological Science 29 (2002): 1083–1131.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1006/jasc.2001.0758Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reports on smelting, smithing, and fabrication techniques of iron, copper, tin, bronze, and gold from the 4th through the 19th centuries CE. Comprehensive discussion well illustrated with line drawings and micrographs, accompanied by a call for more systematic inclusion of metallurgical analyses in archaeological investigations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Schmidt, Peter R. Iron Technology in East Africa: Symbolism, Science, and Archaeology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Detailed ethnoarchaeological, historical, and archaeological study of metallurgy in the Buhaya region of northwestern Tanzania. Stresses the complexity, variability, and social embeddedness of iron technology and forwards an argument for the independent development of African iron smelting. Well illustrated, including photos of experimental smelts aimed at recreating lapsed smelting practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  States and Complex Societies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Despite the fact that European traders and colonizers interacted with state-level societies in Africa, there was a long-standing presumption that states developed in Africa only after contact with external civilizations. This shaped a postindependence preoccupation with questions of origins (see also Pastoralism, Cultivation and Plant Use, Metallurgy, Urbanism, and Exchange and External Connections) and efforts to demonstrate that African states were early and independent of external connections. So, too, was there a concern to develop models of understanding independent of the Near Eastern models of state formation that early archaeologists assumed to be the standard trajectory for the development of complex societies. Readers looking for a general introduction to the issues and evidence across the continent will find Connah 2001 to be a good starting point. Other surveys of the development of complex societies are regionally focused: Horton and Middleton 2000 on the Swahili coast; Pikirayi 2001 on the Zimbabwe Plateau; Leslie and Maggs 2000 on the Limpopo Valley. Little is known about the earlier history of complex polities in central Africa; as such, Maret 1977, on cemeteries at Sanga, remains a key source. McIntosh 1999 represents a call for new thinking and models around questions of cultural complexity and state formation. Monroe and Ogundiran 2012 provides insight into current research directions attuned to the specificities of African contexts and the importance of landscape as a dimension of power and its manifestations and production.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Summarizes research and debates on urbanism and state formation in relation to varied environmental settings in Nubia, Ethiopia, West Africa, East Africa, Zimbabwe, and Central Africa. Includes numerous line drawings and an extensive bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Horton, Mark, and John Middleton. The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A comprehensive account of the origins and development of Swahili society based on archaeological, documentary, and ethnographic sources. Addresses the role of trade, the character of city life, and the nature of governance and politics. Well illustrated and authoritative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Leslie, Mary, and Tim Maggs, eds. African Naissance: The Limpopo Valley 1000 Years Ago. South African Archaeological Society, Goodwin Series 8. Cape Town: South African Archaeological Society, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Explores the emergence of complex societies in the Limpopo Valley in the period c. 900–1300 CE. Presents primary data and varying interpretations of the K2, Mapungubwe, and related sites with contributions on chronology, fauna, human skeletal remains, beads, ritual practice, and metallurgy. Well illustrated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Maret, Pierre de. “Sanga: New Excavations, More Data, and Some Related Problems.” Journal of African History 18 (1977): 321–337.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700027298Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reports on excavations at a large cemetery in the environs of the historic Luba Kingdom. Abundant grave goods aided division of burials into three periods, with the earliest Kisalian graves dated to the 9th century CE and associated with evidence for social stratification by the 11th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • McIntosh, Susan Keech, ed. Beyond Chiefdoms: Pathways to Complexity in Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Collection of essays aimed at developing African-inspired models and theories regarding the origins and character of complex societies. A much-cited opening essay by McIntosh argues for multiple pathways to complexity, which are illustrated through the ethnographic and archaeological case studies that comprise the volume.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Monroe, J. Cameron, and Akinwumi Ogundiran, eds. Power and Landscape in Atlantic West Africa: Archaeological Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511921032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Original contributions explore the character of power vis-à-vis social, political, and economic processes in Atlantic-period West Africa, with a particular focus on landscape and politics as culturally embedded social practice. Representative of new directions in the study of complex societies and their broader contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Pikirayi, Innocent. The Zimbabwe Culture: Origins and Decline of Southern Zambezian States. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Presents the historical debates, environmental context, and archaeological evidence relevant to state formation on the Zimbabwe Plateau. Uses archaeological and historical sources to explore both internal dynamics and external connections, thoughtfully engaging with the diverse approaches and interpretations that have been proposed vis-à-vis processes of state formation in this region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Urbanism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In similar fashion to debates around States and Complex Societies, archaeological questions centered on urbanism in the early postcolonial period focused on origins (see also Pastoralism, Cultivation and Plant Use, Metallurgy). It was long assumed that cities in Africa did not form until relatively late and then as a result of contact with urban societies outside Africa. From the 1970s, archaeologists began to systematically investigate the pre-Islamic levels of ancient Sudanic cities and argued that models of urban life derived from the study of early Near Eastern examples did not adequately capture the character or variety of early African cities. McIntosh and McIntosh 1993 was among the first studies to make the case for why models drawn from outside the African continent were inadequate for understanding early African urban settings, a theme that is further elaborated on in LaViolette and Fleisher 2005. Polet 2004–2005 provides an example of recent research centered on a capitol of a Sudanic state (Ghana), while Wynne-Jones 2007 explores the character of urban communities associated with the Indian Ocean trade. Monroe 2011 provides a synopsis of the debates around urbanism and a well-illustrated example of an urban form associated with the Atlantic period on West Africa’s coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • LaViolette, Adria, and Jeffrey Fleisher. “The Archaeology of Sub-Saharan Urbanism: Cities and Their Countrysides.” In African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction. Edited by Ann Brower Stahl, 327–352. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Useful introduction to the debates around urbanism and their theoretical and geographical inspirations. Argues for the importance of considering cities in relation to hinterlands and stresses the diverse forms of urban expression in precolonial Africa through an exploration of three case studies: the Middle Niger, the Swahili Coast, and Great Zimbabwe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • McIntosh, Susan K., and Roderick J. McIntosh. “Cities without Citadels: Understanding Urban Origins along the Middle Niger.” In The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns. Edited by Thurstan Shaw, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko, 622–641. London: Routledge, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A pioneering contribution on questions of urbanism in precolonial Africa that makes the case for the distinctive form that African urban settlements took, explored through the example of Jenne-Jeno, located in the Middle Niger region of Mali.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Monroe, J. Cameron. “Urbanism on West Africa’s Slave Coast.” American Scientist 99 (2011): 400–409.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An accessibly written and amply illustrated article that challenges the myth of precolonial Africa as a place lacking cities. Informed by the growing interest in how cities function in relation to their countrysides, this article explores the history of royal capitols associated with the kingdoms of Allada, Hueda, and Dahomey.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Polet, Jean, ed. “Kumbi Saleh.” Afrique: Archéologie et Arts 3 (2004–2005): 19–100.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        French-language compilation of recent work at Kumbi-Saleh and, less fully, Tegdaoust (Mauritania), with implications for our understanding of ancient Ghana. Four contributions explore the spatial implications of Kumbi-Saleh’s mosque; necropolis enclosures of Kumbi-Saleh; implications of ceramic technological style for cultural continuity and change; and exploitation of copper and currencies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Wynne-Jones, Stephanie. “Creating Urban Communities at Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania, AD 800–1300.” Antiquity 81 (2007): 368–380.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Explores the relationship of Swahili coastal stone towns to interior sites, arguing for the active role of material culture derived from the Indian Ocean trade as central in distinguishing coastal elites from hinterland populations. Argues that a prestige goods system was central to the development of Swahili town life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Village Life

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By default, archaeologists interested in the advent of food production or metallurgy focused their excavations on the village-sized settlements that characterized those societies (see Pastoralism, Cultivation and Plant Use, Metallurgy). However, until recently it has been less common for those interested in complex societies (see States and Complex Societies, Urbanism) or in the archaeology of recent centuries (see Exchange and External Connections) to focus excavations on either village-sized sites or village-level societies. In these cases, village-scale settlements were perceived as the unchanging building blocks on which complex societies were built. By extension, there was a tacit understanding among scholars that one could more easily learn what one wanted to know about village life from ethnography than from archaeology. Much has changed in recent decades as scholars have recognized that village life too was dynamic: that nonelites in villages were incorporated into states, with implications for their daily lives, as discussed by Fleisher and LaViolette 1999; that they participated in intercontinental exchange, as explored by Gokee 2011 and Ogundiran 2009 in reference to West African case studies; and that colonialism wrought changes in village life, as discussed by Swanepoel 2008. Cohen 2010 extends the point to an early 2nd millennium CE context in southern Africa, where the author looks at mosaic combinations of subsistence at the village level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cohen, D. Reed. “Hunting and Herding at Moritsane, a Village in Southeastern Botswana, c. AD 1165–1275.” South African Archaeological Bulletin 65.192 (2010): 154–163.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Combines zooarchaeological data with paleoclimatic information to explore the combination of hunting and herding at the Middle Iron age sites of Moritsane. Describes bone point manufacturing and hunting strategies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Fleisher, Jeff, and Adria LaViolette. “Elusive Wattle-and-Daub: Finding the Hidden Majority in the Archaeology of the Swahili.” Azania 34 (1999): 87–108.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/00672709909511473Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Presents methodologies aimed at locating and investigating nonstone sites along the Swahili coast, which the authors argue are crucial for understanding the lives of Swahili elites and nonelites alike. Uses data from investigations on Pemba Island to assess research strategies and outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gokee, Cameron D. “Practical Knowledge and Politics of Encounter along the Lower Falémé River, Senegambia (c. AD 1500–1925).” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 46 (2011): 269–293.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2011.609336Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Uses technological style and operational sequences of ceramic production to explore how practices of craft production were reconfigured through interactions in a frontier setting. Archaeological sources suggest a period of technological borrowing and experimentation in the 18th and 19th centuries, with implications for the character of political process.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ogundiran, Akinwumi. “Material Life and Domestic Economy in a Frontier of the Oyo Empire during the Mid-Atlantic Age.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 42 (2009): 351–385.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Through a microhistorical approach, addresses how 17th- and 18th-century households and communities responded to the commercial revolutions of the Atlantic world. Explores the relationship between domestic and exchange economies and critically engages questions around the relationship between local political economic projects and global entanglements. Evidentially rich and thought provoking.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Swanepoel, Natalie. “View from the Village: Changing Settlement Patterns in Sisalaland, Northern Ghana.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 41 (2008): 1–27.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Challenges the notion of an enduring relationship between specific ethnographic groups and particular settlement patterns. Using the Sisala of northern Ghana as an example, explores the dynamics of settlement patterning in relation to changing political economic circumstances, including those associated with colonialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Religion and Ritual

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Archaeologists have in recent decades demonstrated a growing interest in the archaeology of religion and ritual. Whereas these were long perceived as topics difficult to address using archaeological sources, recent theoretical and methodological shifts discussed in Stahl 2008 provide inspiration for new approaches to the study of ritual practice. At the same time, there has been a burgeoning interest in the ethnoarchaeology of shrines and sacred landscapes as exemplified by Chouin 2002 and Dawson 2009 (see also Analogy and Ethnoarchaeology). Insoll 2003 provides a comprehensive overview of archaeological perspectives on the expansion and expressions of Islam in Africa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Chouin, Gérard. “Sacred Groves in History: Pathways to the Social Shaping of Forest Landscapes in Coastal Ghana.” IDS Bulletin 33 (2002): 39–46.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Focusing on examples from the area around Elmina, Ghana, the author explores sacred groves as historical artifacts linked to practices of social order and power. The author explores their ritual processes of formation and conservation, with broader implications for understandings of landscapes as social products.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dawson, Allan Charles, ed. Shrines in Africa: History, Politics and Society. Calgary, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection focused primarily on West African shrines: their forms, propitiation, and relationships to political authority and ethnic identity. Primarily ethnoarchaeological in method, with one archaeological study. An additional paper extends the geographical scope of the volume to Morocco. Photos and line drawings help extend understanding.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Insoll, Timothy. The Archaeology of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A synopsis of archaeological insights into the expansion of Islam in Africa. Chapters focus on Ethiopia and the Horn, the Nilotic Sudan, the East African coast, West Africa, and the interior of eastern, central, and southern Africa, with emphasis on the diversity of Islamic expressions and melding with local practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Stahl, Ann B. “Dogs, Pythons, Pots, and Beads: The Dynamics of Shrines and Sacrificial Practices in Banda, Ghana, 1400–1900 CE.” In Memory Work: Archaeologies of Depositional Practice. Edited by Barbara J. Mills and William H. Walker, 159–186. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Explores ritual practice beyond formal loci (shrines) in order to illuminate the relationship of ritual to daily life and its relationship to political economic dislocations associated with Atlantic trade and colonial rule. Draws on object biographies and depositional context to explore spatial and temporal variability in ritual practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Exchange and External Connections

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For decades questions of external connections were linked to debates around origins and diffusion of key innovations (see Pastoralism, Cultivation and Plant Use, Metallurgy, States and Complex Societies, and Urbanism). Efforts to counter colonialist perceptions that all innovation stemmed from outside contact (see History of African Archaeology) resulted in archaeologists turning away from the study of connections in the early postcolonial period. Only recently, with growing interest in questions around the formation of ancient and modern “world systems,” have questions centered on the timing and effects of exchange and external connections come to the fore again (see also Textbooks and Archaeology of Siege and Slavery). This has been particularly visible in the archaeology of West Africa, where the DeCorse 2001 and Ogundiran and Falola 2007 collections address issues of the Atlantic economy and its effects. Nixon 2009 challenges conventional documentary understandings of the antiquity of West African connections via the Saharan trade. With reference to the Indian Ocean trade, Robertshaw, et al. 2010 gives an example of how archaeologists use material sources to address trade connections; Pollard 2011 provides insights into the technologies of trade; and Killick 2009 reflects on the effects of this long-standing trade on technological development in East Africa. Edwards 2007 offers a view of deeper temporal connections via the Nile corridor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • DeCorse, Christopher R., ed. West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives. London: Leicester University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Focused on the archaeology of the last five hundred years, chapters explore the social and political economic dynamics of societies from Senegal to Cameroon. Includes case studies of both coastal and interior societies. One of the first volumes to focus on the archaeology of the slave trade period.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Edwards, David N. “The Archaeology of Sudan and Nubia.” Annual Review of Anthropology 36 (2007): 211–228.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.36.081406.094305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reviews Nile corridor archaeology from the early Holocene through the Islamic period. The article stresses the region’s importance as a zone of cultural interaction and its importance to broader debates around cultural connections and their effects. Valuable bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Killick, David J. “Agency, Dependency, and Long-Distance Trade: East Africa and the Islamic World, ca. 700–1500 CE.” In Polities and Power: Archaeological Perspectives on the Landscapes of Early States. Edited by Steven E. Falconer and Charles L. Redman, 179–207. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores long-distance trade and interaction in relation to societal scale and processes of knowledge transfer, asking questions about the effects of unequal exchange through examination of trade between southeastern Africa and the Islamic world. Argues that differential technology transfer characterized this interaction, with long-term economic implications.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Nixon, Sam. “Excavating Essouk-Tadmakka (Mali): New Archaeological Investigations of Early Islamic Trans-Saharan Trade.” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 44 (2009): 217–255.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/00671990903047595Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Challenges conventional understandings of the trans-Saharan trade in terms of antiquity, commodities, and effects. Excavations provide substantive evidence of settlement and trade from the 8th century CE, attest to production of gold coins, and suggest trade in grain (particularly wheat) and bulk commodities (shea butter) not noted in documentary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ogundiran, Akinwumi, and Toyin Falola, eds. Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A contribution to the archaeology of the modern world notable for bringing together archaeological scholarship on Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora. African contributions center on West Africa, with one East African chapter. Diaspora chapters extend from New England to South America. Topics include religion, ethnicity, technology, and daily life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pollard, Edward. “Safeguarding Swahili Trade in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries: A Unique Navigational Complex in South-East Tanzania.” World Archaeology 43 (2011): 458–477.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2011.608287Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Describes unique and important intertidal stone architecture first noted in the Kilwa Kisiwani Harbor and now documented along a 120 km stretch of Tanzania’s southeastern coastline that appears to have been constructed as navigational aids for ships plying the Sofala-Kilwa route in the period of Indian Ocean gold trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Robertshaw, Peter, Marilee Wood, Erik Melchiorre, Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoff, and Michael D. Glascock. “Southern African Glass Beads: Chemistry, Glass Sources and Patterns of Trade.” Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010): 1898–1912.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.02.016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chemical studies of glass beads are used to determine their sources and associated exchange networks. Analyses document the varying Indian Ocean connections of interior southern African sites and polities (Schroda, K2, Mapungubwe, and Great Zimbabwe) and their associations with historical events in the Indian Ocean world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Archaeology of Siege and Slavery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Whereas historians have long been interested in the effects of the slave trade on African societies, it is a topic to which archaeologists have only recently turned (see also Exchange and External Connections). Research on the archaeology of siege and slavery requires that scholars develop new analytical approaches, as discussed in Kusimba 2004 and Stahl 2008. Case studies of slavery and warfare in West Africa demonstrate the value of approaching the questions through multiple lines of evidence, as exemplified in MacEachern 1993, Swanepoel 2005, and Usman 2003. Esterhuysen 2007 is particularly valuable for its in-depth study of the effects of siege on daily life and its reconfiguration in the aftermath of war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Esterhuysen, Amanda Beth. “Let the Ancestors Speak: An Archaeological Excavation and Re-evaluation of Events Prior and Pertaining to the 1854 Siege of Mugombane, Limpopo Province, South Africa.” PhD diss., School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science, University of Witwatersrand, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An electronically available dissertation that reports on excavations at a cave site refuge used by Kekana people during an 1854 siege by Boer trekkers. Exceptionally preserved plant, animal, and human remains provide robust insight into the daily lives of people under siege and how chieftaincy was reconfigured in its aftermath.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Kusimba, Chapurukha M. “Archaeology of Slavery in East Africa.” African Archaeological Review 21 (2004): 59–88.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1023/B:AARR.0000030785.72144.4aSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Draws attention to the dearth of archaeological research on slavery and the slave trade in Africa. Establishes questions that can be posed and analytical approaches that can be taken in studying issues important for understanding the development of social and political inequality in Africa, illustrated by an example from Kenya.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • MacEachern, Scott. “Selling the Iron for Their Shackles: Wandala-Montagnard Interactions in Northern Cameroon.” Journal of African History 34 (1993): 247–270.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S002185370003334XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines the dynamics of settlement and metallurgy in and around the Mandara highlands in a period of slaving and warfare. Uses multiple lines of evidence to explore the relationship between metallurgists in highland refuges and their lowland horse-mounted state-level neighbors. Notable for drawing attention to intersocietal relationships.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Stahl, Ann Brower. “The Slave Trade as Practice and Memory: What Are the Issues for Archaeologists?” In Invisible Citizens: Captives and Their Consequences. Edited by Catherine M. Cameron, 25–56. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores what we can learn, and how, from archaeological studies of slavery, both as a practice in the past and a form of memory work in the present. Examines the implications of slavery tourism for heritage practices and the suitability of archaeological archives for studying slavery and the slave trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Swanepoel, Natalie. “Socio-Political Change on a Slave-Raiding Frontier: War, Trade and Big Men in Nineteenth Century Sisalaland, Northern Ghana.” Journal of Conflict Archaeology 1 (2005): 265–293.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/157407705774928999Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Underscores the importance of locality and context in studying the character and effects of slave raiding and slavery. Uses examples from Sisalaland to explore how individuals and villages consolidated power with material effects on settlement, landscape, and the distribution of goods within communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Usman, Aribidesi. “The Ethnohistory and Archaeology of Warfare in Northern Yoruba.” Journal of African Archaeology 1 (2003): 201–214.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.3213/1612-1651-10009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the character and effects of 16th- to 19th-century warfare on social configurations and settlement strategies in a frontier region between powerful states. Combines oral and archaeological sources to address varying responses to aggression and its effects on social stratification in Igbomina.

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